Posted: 11:15 a.m. Friday, March 8, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
The Weekend Preview runs down Florida's non-football, non-basketball, non-track sports on fall and spring weekends. If you have a Florida club sport or other note to include in the Weekend Preview, hit @AlligatorArmy.
And, this week, track is obviously the show, so check out FlaGators' articles all weekend for extensive coverage of Florida's men's attempt to win a fourth straight national title at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Florida's women's basketball team needs a big win — the SEC Tournament title, specifically — in the worst way. They'll have to earn it against No. 1-seeded Tennessee on Friday.
Florida took a hard-fought 64-59 win over Arkansas on Thursday (its second straight over the Razorbacks on a Thursday, amusingly), and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament, which is being held in Duluth, Georgia. Their prize is a date with the Lady Vols, who have just one loss since February and haven't lost in the SEC Tournament since 2009. Florida is 0-8 against Tennessee in SEC Tournament play (0-3 under Amanda Butler), but played Tennessee hard in Gainesville in January, pushing the Vols to overtime despite not having Jennifer George for much of that game.
If a healthier George can help Florida take down Tennessee, it would be one of the biggest wins in program history. And it would only buy Florida a pass to the semifinals, as the Gators really need to win the SEC's automatic bid to be assured of an NCAA Tournament spot. Tipoff is at noon Eastern on Friday, and you can catch the game on Fox Sports Net or ESPN3.
Florida softball's 23-1 record is already among the most impressive in college softball this season, especially with the last win coming over Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. But the Gators can re-establish themselves as the SEC favorites with a strong start to the season this weekend against Auburn.
The Gators' win over Alabama was technically a non-conference game, though I have no clue why, but Florida beginning SEC play with a sweep on the road would be a nice end to a week spent in the state of Alabama. Florida is 30-17 all-time against the Tigers, and won three close games against them in Gainesville last season.
Florida also hasn't lost to Auburn since 2007.
Game 1 of the series is Friday at 7 p.m., Game 2 is Saturday at 2 p.m., and Game 3 is Sunday at 2 p.m.; all times are Eastern.
Florida's baseball team is riding a four-game winning streak, with all four wins coming against Florida teams. Now, the Gators will get an Indiana team that will be unused to the balmy conditions of Gainesville in March ... and also to playing baseball outdoors.
Nevertheless, Indiana is one of the favorites to win the Big Ten, and has rolled up a 6-2 record early this season, including a 2-1 record in the state of Florida. The Hoosiers are led by hitters Sam Travis (.448/.585/.793), Kyle Schwarber (.378/.405/.622), and Michael Basil (.371/.463/.571), all of whom have at least 20 total bases and nine RBI on the year, and by starters Joey DeNato (1-1, 2.03 ERA), Aaron Siegers (1-0, 0.00) and Kyle Hart (1-0, 3.07), who have yielded three combined extra base hits in 28 combined innings of work.
Florida counters with Jonathon Crawford (0-1, 3.60), still seeking his first win of 2013, who will start against DeNato at 7 p.m. on Friday; freshman Tucker Simpson (0-1, 4.15) on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Siegers; and freshman Eric Hanhold (0-0, 5.19 ERA) against Hart on Sunday at 1 p.m. And it's going to be cold again tonight, with lows dipping into the 40s, so bring a blanket if you're going.
Florida's tennis teams will meet South Carolina in weekend action this week, with the men's team visiting the Gamecocks on Friday and the women's team welcoming their Cackalack counterparts on Saturday.
Florida's men are coming off a comeback 4-3 victory over Texas A&M; to start the SEC season last Sunday, and could add a big road win for a 2-0 start in conference play. Play begins at 5 p.m. Eastern.
Florida's women dropped their first SEC match in nearly four years at Texas A&M; last Sunday, but will likely have every opportunity to rebound against the Gamecocks at home, where they have been absolutely dominant. As always, admission to tennis matches at the Ring Tennis Complex, like the Gators' women's match on Saturday at 1 p.m., is free to the public.
The Florida lacrosse team's hot start will literally cool off a bit on Saturday, as the Gators take on Dartmouth on the road. Don't count on the Gators taking their first loss, though.
No. 13 Dartmouth is Florida's fourth ranked opponent of the 2013 season, and boasts a 4-0 record, but has been good, not dominant, this season, with none of its wins coming by more than five goals. No. 2 Florida, meanwhile, has six such wins, and beat those other three ranked teams (North Carolina, Stony Brook, and Syracuse), and thumped Dartmouth by a 20-4 count in Gainesville last season.
With temperatures likely to be in the 40s at the opening draw on Saturday at noon, Florida will be out of its element. But Florida's speed and strength have a way of making up for that.
Pop quiz: Do you know where the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, the tournament Florida's men's golf team will compete in from Friday until Sunday, takes place? If you guessed Las Vegas, you're a genius.
Florida's men's team has yet to break through with a win in the spring after opening its fall campaign with a victory way back in September at The Invitational at The Ocean Course, but hasn't placed lower than sixth, and is coming off back-to-back fourth place finishes at the SunTrust Gator Invitational and the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational. Getting strong performances from 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion T.J. Vogel and senior Tyler McCumber, who have a combined two rounds under par in their last 10 tournament loops, would help the Gators' cause.
On the bright side, no matter what happens in Vegas, those Gators got a free trip (well, working vacation) to Vegas for Spring Break.